What is a Trust Ordinance?

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, a group of Lowell residents petitioned the council to consider adopting a “trust ordinance.” The council referred the matter to the city manager for a report and recommendation which is expected to be back before the council at its next meeting.

Today I noticed that Sue Kim, the primary proponent of the petition, posted on Facebook an explanation of what a Trust Ordinance is and what it is designed to accomplish. She has allowed me to repost her essay here:

What is a Trust Ordinance

By Sue Kim

There is a lot of misinformation about Trust Ordinances and sanctuary cities out there, so I apologize for the length of this post, but it needs to be shared.

WHAT IS A TRUST ORDINANCE? In essence, Trust Ordinances state that the local police will not inquire into immigration status. This does not mean that immigrants are not subject to the law; it simply means that everyone – citizen or non-citizen – is treated equally by the police.

As Lowell Police Chief Bill Taylor has publicly stated several times, the Lowell Police Dept seeks to cultivate trust between the police and local communities and therefore does not want to become an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If residents are afraid of deportation, they will not report crimes or cooperate with the police. But there is currently a lot of uncertainty among both undocumented and documented refugees and immigrants.

Trust Acts do not apply to those with felony warrants — under Trust Acts, those with criminal warrants, whether documented or undocumented, are to be treated the same.

A copy of the petition and a copy of the Boston Trust Act, which was submitted to the City Council last week, is available here: https://drive.google.com/…/0B7vwI1lWYlfaTEFHdXVWSjlfN…/view…

1) If the LOWELL POLICE DEPARTMENT ALREADY HAS WRITTEN POLICIES that indicate that the police will not inquire into immigration status, then that is great! I personally would love to know exactly what these policies are so that I can help get the word out to all Lowell residents.

2) Trust Acts and sanctuary cities are distinct. The term “sanctuary city” has a range of meanings, from public statements of welcome to all groups, to networks of resources and support, to Trust Ordinances that state that the police will not inquire into immigration status.

The White House, however, counts all of the above as sanctuary cities. A brief explanation is available here: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/…/sanctuary-citi….

3) A TRUST ORDINANCE DOES NOT PROTECT THOSE WHO COMMIT CRIMES, whether misdemeanors or felonies, and it doesn’t even protect people from raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But Trust Acts – such as the ones in Boston and Lawrence – do state that the police will not inquire into immigration status. It also – and perhaps more importantly – unequivocally signals to the community that the City of Lowell values ALL its residents, citizen or not.

4) TRUST ORDINANCES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IMMIGRATION POLICY or policies on refugees; it does not change or seek to change any immigration polices. What it does ensure, as a matter of official policy rather than merely unwritten practice, that all city’s residents are equally treated. We are asking for such a policy to be codified or – in the case that such a policy is already in place – to be shown where this policy exists, so we may educate the public about their rights.

5) MANY POLICE CHIEFS ACROSS THE COUNTRY SUPPORT TRUST ACTS. The Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCC) opposes requiring local authorities to enforce immigration law for a number of reasons: undermines community policing; lack of resources; complexity of immigration law; and risk of civil liability. The MCC position statement is available here: https://www.majorcitieschiefs.com/…/MCC_Position_Statement.….

6) TWO SUPREME COURT CASES MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PULL FUNDS FROM SANCTUARY CITIES. 1997 Printz vs US and a 2012 ACA case state that the federal government cannot use the threat of withholding funds to force local governments to act against its will: https://www.bloomberg.com/…/sanctuary-cities-are-safe-thank….

The issue, of course, is that both sides will pursue legal cases all the way back to the Supreme Court, and the court is currently divided. As you may be aware, Chelsea and Lawrence have already filed cases arguing that the threat to sanctuary cities is unconstitutional (https://www.bostonglobe.com/…/tXbFN0dM6Wy88gHEjw…/story.html).

7) Studies have shown that crime is actually LOWER in sanctuary cities: https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/trump-says-sanctuary-cit…/….

8) In the past, THE LOWELL CITY COUNCIL HAS TAKEN PUBLIC STANCES ON NATIONAL ISSUES. In 2004, the City Council passed a resolution protecting civil liberties against the Patriot Act. That resolution specifically includes “citizen” and “non-citizen.”

9) Finally, the declaration of a Trust Act is a moral obligation to our fellow community members and human beings: NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL. It is no coincidence that the modern-day sanctuary movement arose from churches and faith-based organizations. The concept of “sanctuary” comes from the Old Testament and has been invoked by faith leaders of all stripes through millennia.

3 Responses to What is a Trust Ordinance?

  1. Sue Kim says:

    Also, although I drafted the request to the City Council, this is supported by many folks across the community. Some of the speakers in support of the petition at last Tuesday’s meeting, I had never met! :)

  2. joe from Lowell says:

    It is odd to live in a city where the police department is one of the most progressive forces in local government. I know there are progressive police departments in other cities, but they are usually in places where the city council is particularly left-wing. Here, we have the LPD dragging the Council behind them.